School lunch program heavily regulated by federal standards

DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB) –  It’s been five years since the federally mandated school lunch program changed the way school districts serve food as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids” act.

Healthier school lunches were introduced in 2010 to help combat child obesity. It’s one of the most regulated programs in the country. Food service Director in the  Depew-Union Free School District, Barbara Albi, says she creates her program around calorie, sodium and portion restrictions. But she says some parents have reservations.

FOUND IT ON 4 | Depew Union Free School District Food Service website

“I’m glad things are being offered, but I want to be able to choose what my children can take. And I think that’s what we are hearing a lot of,” she said.

A recent Centers For Disease Control study shows government mandates for healthier school lunches have shown promise. 80 percent of schools are now offering two or more vegetable choices with student meals. But since its a 5-year phase in program, Albi says its too soon to tell if it’s working.

“So you can’t tell in a year . Myself, I’m seeing less waste, so maybe the children are eating it, but I don’t know the effects on the children themselves yet,” she said.   Albi says she has frustrations with some of the program’s requirements and says forcing students to take the required fruits and vegetables may backfire.

“If they choose it, they’re going to eat it. And then they are getting the benefit of what the requirement is for,” she said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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